Anyone involved in Christian ministries in Europe knows how difficult is to get financial support from the state, region or EU (this statement is not valid for two major traditional Christian denominations for which there are no limitations). People following the development in this area for years now are aware only of a handful of examples when a rule not to fund ‘religious’ organizations was NOT implemented against the Evangelicals. The total amount of funds eventually allocated is very small, in range of several hundreds of thousands of EUR. Administrative hurdles, hundreds of pages of documents, local and international bureaucracy – ever hungry for more papers with more stamps and colorful stickers attached to it, and particular ‘gnostic’ language of these applications present themselves as great troubles. Anyone who attempts to fill them properly and ethically gets into the, kind of, topsy-turvy situation close to impossible, and ultimately gives up. So, the money goes elsewhere.
Most people I spoke with think EU funding for their religious activities is not realistic and the territory as being possessed by the ‘giants in the land.’ They have heard of failures, some saw them, and they do not even try anymore. This situation is unchanged for years and the EU red-tape guardians are keeping it shut, closed and unavailable.
I was saddened but amused when I read in International Herald Tribune (20-21 Nov. 2010) the story titled “Elton John doesn’t qualify for state aid, E.U. tells Italy.” This article shows that the European Commission ordered Italy to pay back 720,000 EUR, used by the local authorities to pay for the September 2009 Elton John’s concert in Naples. Apparently ‘picking up the tab’ for a concert was a bit too much even amidst thousands of projects being funded from the EU every year – lavishing billions of euros of taxpayers’ money.
Reading the whole article I learned of the following projects being supported from the same source: Roma education money was spent on two local football teams (in Slovakia) and funds for the improvement of leadership skills were used in a vegetable processing plant. Another example given was about 411,000 EUR for a Hungarian dog fitness and rehabilitation center that was never built in the first place.
There will be a day when excellent and important projects from Christian non-profit organizations in a need of funding will make its way to the ‘judges’ in Brussels and we will see them supported from that side also. I believe there is a proper, legal and ethical way to do so. After all, we are engaged in life changing activities helping people find meaning in their lives.
Let us hope that those responsible will soon use their common sense, if they have left their faith hanging in some old closed in a basement…